Friday, November 21, 2014

Taking Advantage of a Local Station's Silent Period

It's happened to all of us in the DX community before. A local station either goes completely silent, or decides to reduce its hours of operation. Most likely, this is purely for financial reasons. In the case of KFNS 590 (which is in the process of being sold to a Christian group as I write this), it's over nonpayment of debts. A station also stays silent during the course of a sale, which is also the case with KFNS (1,000 watts day and night with separate patterns for day and night operation). In the case of KXFN 1380, their reduction of operations is not only a purely financial move, it's also because of a loss of their nighttime transmitter site. Until the station flipped from female-centered talk to extreme talk, it was a 24-hour operation. When the station flipped to extreme talk, they cut back their operations to being on from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. When the station lost the lease on its nighttime transmitter site, KXFN became a 5,000-watt daytime only operation (they operated at 1,000 watts at night, which misses most of the St. Louis metro area).  KXFN also utilized separate patterns for day and night operations.

Many DXers take advantage of the silence of a local station to try and pull in DX. In the case of the silence of KFNS, the dominant station on 590 at night becomes KXSP in Omaha, NE, which operates at 5,000 watts day and night with a non-directional antenna. The station has operated with the same facilities since they were WOW. Also received during the nighttime hours at my Hazelwood, MO location are two Michiganders, WJMS in Ironwood (on the Upper Peninsula) and WKZO in Kalamazoo (on the Lower Peninsula), along with KLBJ Austin, TX, XEPE Mexico City, Federal District, Mexico and Radio Musical from Cuba. During the hours before sunrise, a Midwesterner near St. Louis could hear WMBS Uniontown, PA with its Adult Standards format. The absence of a local on 590 also allows DX to come in on 580 and 600. On 600, one of the dominant stations at sunset into the early evening hours is WMT out of Cedar Rapids, IA. I've also heard WREC out of Memphis, TN, WSJS out of Winston-Salem, NC and the Cuban from Urbano Noris. One station on 600 I added to the log during KFNS' silence is WVAR in Richwood, WV. 580 is usually dominated by XEMU in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico at night, and WILL Urbana, IL during the daytime. Even with KFNS on the air, WIBW out of Topeka, KS makes it in at local sunset on 580. The DX possibilities could be endless while my local 590 (licensed to Wood River, IL) remains off the air during the sale.

Taking advantage of the reduction in operating hours of a local station is another way to add to your DX totals. Since KXFN 1380 began reducing hours, I've logged a number of stations on 1380. The dominant station at night is WLRM out of Millington, TN (a suburb of Memphis). Also noted at night on 1380: WVSA in Vernon, AL (along the border with Mississippi), WTJK in South Beloit, IL (on the Wisconsin border), KCNW in Fairway, KS (a suburb of Kansas City), KLIZ in Brainerd, MN and WHEW in Franklin, TN (a suburb of Nashville), along with WPYR out of Baton Rouge, LA. One station, KAGE in Winona, MN, was heard simulcasting an FM sister station (KWNO-FM 99.3 in nearby Rushford). WGNU 920 has a regular silent period on Saturday and Sunday; while WGNU is silent, KDHL in Faribault, MN is dominant, along with KARN in Little Rock, AR. I've also noted my ex-local on that frequency (as WAFS and WGKA) at my Hazelwood location. Other stations on 920 I've noted (regardless of whether WGNU is on or off) include KLMR in Lamar, CO, CFRY in Portage la Prairie, MB, KYST in Texas City, TX (a Houston suburb), as well as stations in Russellville, AL and Whitesburg, KY. 30 years ago, when the local on 550 (then KUSA) had a silent period, I would usually note KTSA San Antonio, TX dominating. Other times, I would hear KFYR in Bismarck, ND.

Since I returned to St. Louis in 1992, the local on 630 has been off the air for extended periods twice. During the first silent period in 1994 during the transition from KXOK to KJSL, I heard WBMQ in Savannah, GA, CFCO in Chatham, ON, CKRC in Winnipeg, MB, KSLR in San Antonio, TX and another station in Honduras. Since that time, CKRC has moved to the FM dial and WBMQ has cut night power from 1,000 watts to 47 watts. During the second silent period in 2013 during the transition from KJSL to KYFI, KSLR and CFCO were again noted, along with WNEG in Toccoa, GA, WREY in St. Paul, MN and XEFB in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. While the local on 630 has to protect KHOW in Denver, CO at night, it appears Denver also protects St. Louis; KHOW has not made it into the logbook at Hazelwood. Neither has WLAP in Lexington, KY (nor another Lexington station, WVLK 590).

Even FM stations have been off the air for extended periods of time, allowing DX to be pulled in. Three of Clear Channel Radio's (now iHeart Radio) St. Louis FM stations were knocked off the air after a derecho moved through St. Louis in July 2006. On 93.7, I was able to relog KTUF in Kirksville, MO, and added WTRX Pontiac, IL (now WJBC-FM) to the logbook. On 104.9, I added WFIW-FM in Fairfield, IL, KPWB-FM in Piedmont, MO and KBOE-FM in Oskaloosa, IA to my FM logbook. On 107.7, I added stations in Fairbury, IL, Otterville and Stockton, MO. From June of 1999 to the following June, WFUN-FM 95.5 was off the air for station upgrades and moving the studio from St. Ann to Olivette. E-skip conditions allowed me to log WPLJ in New York, as well as KYFO in Ogden, UT and KMBR in Butte, MT. Tropo conditions allowed me to log Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis and Nashville, as well as WGLO in Pekin, IL and KAAN-FM in Bethany, MO.  

When one of your locals are off for whatever reason, take advantage of that station's silence and log some DX!